• MVP (And Other Awards) Talk

    Posted by on November 19th, 2009 · Comments (4)

    Pretty soon, the talk of the town will be around the MVP voting results in baseball…

    If you could go back in time and change things so that Bobby Murcer wins the 1971 A.L. MVP Award or that Derek Jeter wins the 2006 A.L. MVP Award, which would you change?

    It’s a tough one for me. The league MVP Award is just about the only award that Jeter hasn’t won in his career. So, it would be nice to see him add this one missing piece to his already awesome collection of hardware.

    But, then again, it would have been great to see Murcer get an award like this – so that it would stand out like a beacon and draw some deserved attention to his very solid and underrated playing career.

    While we’re on the topic, what other post-season award voting results would you like to revisit and change so that a member of the Yankees won the award?

    Would you give Ron Guidry another Cy Young Award in 1985? How about some additional MVP Awards for Don Mattingly in 1984 and 1986? (Have to wonder if Donnie Baseball had won back-to-back-to-back MVPs if that would have changed his Cooperstown chances…)

    Meco Memories

    Posted by on November 19th, 2009 · Comments (5)

    This morning, I heard Meco’s Star Wars Theme on “The Strobe” on Sirius XM Radio. Every time I hear that song, I think of the 1978 special “It Don’t Come Easy” – since this music was featured during some of the more exciting highlight footage in that one. (Sort of interesting that Star Wars music was featured – about a quarter-century before the whole “Evil Empire” thing.)

    In any event, for sure, it’s a shame that you don’t see “It Don’t Come Easy” broadcast all that much – if ever?

    You would think that’s something that the YES Network could (and would want to) work into their scheduling.

    New York Amsterdam News: Media Gives A-Rod A Buddy Pass

    Posted by on November 18th, 2009 · Comments (9)

    This was in the New York Amsterdam News last week – an outlet that bills itself as “New York’s largest and most influential Black-owned and operated business institutions” – written by Jaime C. Harris:

    The media has reared its hypocritical head again.

    A large contingent of them has granted A-Rod a pardon while still portraying Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens and other steroid users as pariahs. Undoubtedly, their forgiving hearts have been opened as a result of Rodriquez’s tightly scripted apology, ongoing outward contrition, and subsequent emergence as a wholesome public figure and seemingly selfless teammate.

    Ostensibly obsessed with his legacy, Rodriquez has methodically plotted a course he hopes will end with him being voted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame by the media when his playing days are done, moving ever so carefully since being outed.

    Yet those unreceptive to A-Rod’s makeover objectively view him for what he is: a phenomenally gifted baseball player whose achievements have been forever tainted by his use of illegal performance enhancing drugs; including the amazing numbers he put up this past post-season in helping lead the Yankees to their 27th World Series title in which he batted .365 with 6 homers and 18 RBI.

    Rodriguez’s transformation is immaterial to the fact that he should not be distinguished from any other transgressor simply because he has been on his best behavior since admitting using steroids. He no longer can be painted as the anti-Bonds, a role to which he was briefly elevated. Let’s not forget Rodriquez did not come forward voluntarily in an act of nobility. He got busted by a Sports Illustrated reporter.

    You wouldn’t know this by reading and listening to revisionist historians who depict A-Rod’s return to glory as if were the story of Nelson Mandela. The subtext is the media’s collective ego will not allow them to move past their disdain for Bonds, McGwire and Clemens simply because these men dismiss the press and reject showing remorse.

    So the media showers love on A-Rod as a gesture of reciprocal good will. However, even if Rodriquez maintains his current persona until the day of his retirement, the only way he should enter the Hall of Fame before Bonds, McGwire and Clemens, three players with unquestioned Hall credentials, is if he buys a ticket.

    I don’t agree that Mark McGwire has “unquestioned Hall credentials.” But, Bonds and Clemens do…per most. And, they’ll probably get into Cooperstown before A-Rod. So, that’s sort of a moot point. But, it is interesting that many are quick to turn the page on Alex Rodriguez’ PED use – and not so quick to forgive Bonds and Clemens. I wonder why that is?

    It very well could be that Bonds and Clemens are not working, all that much, with the media whereas A-Rod is a source for them now…

    General Joe = 3rd In 2009 A.L. Manger Of The Year Voting

    Posted by on November 18th, 2009 · Comments (11)

    The final voting announced today:

    Manager		1st	2nd	3rd	Points
    Scioscia 	15	10	1	106
    Gardenhire 	6	12	6	72
    Girardi 	4	3	5	34
    Wakamatsu 	2	2	3	19
    Washington 	1	1	11	19
    Leyland 			2	2
    

    I could see Gardenhire getting more votes than Girardi. But, Scioscia?

    I like Scioscia – don’t get me wrong – but, was he really that much better than Girardi?

    Changes Coming On Yanks Coaching Staff?

    Posted by on November 18th, 2009 · Comments (8)

    Via George King yesterday -

    No Yankees coach except hitting instructor Kevin Long is signed for next year. And while the general feeling is that the rest of Joe Girardi’s staff is wanted back, none has been offered a contract for 2010.

    “We are nowhere,” GM Brian Cashman said when asked where he was at concerning the 2010 staff. “We would love to have all of them back under the proper circumstances.”

    Long signed a three-year deal for about $1.125 million before the 2008 season that expires after next year. The contracts of pitching coach Dave Eiland, third base coach Rob Thomson, bench coach Tony Pena, first base coach Mick Kelleher and bullpen coach Mike Harkey have expired.

    Losing Tony Pena and Mick Kelleher would hurt – as they proved their value in the roles they had last season.

    Mike Harkey is Joe Girardi’s buddy. So, I bet something gets worked out there, in time.

    Dave Eiland? Well, that’s an interesting one…and it would not shock me if the Yankees did make a change there.

    May Day = Ring Day?

    Posted by on November 18th, 2009 · Comments (10)

    The Yankees are scheduled to play 22 games next April – with 15 of them being on the road. Yikes! There will not be a lot of home cooking in Yankeeland during the first month of next season.

    So, maybe May 1, 2010 will be the day the Yankees get their 2009 World Series rings? Seems like a long wait…but, it “may” (if you pardon the pun) make sense…

    By the way, the first time that the Red Sox come into Yankee Stadium to play in 2010 is August 6th. That’s nuts! Too bad it’s so late in the season – as it would be nice to repay a deed and have the Red Sox players watch the Yankees players get their rings…

    Update: RockyTopYankee and MJ are correct. I missed that two-game series in May where Boston comes to the Bronx. Oh, well, it’s still crazy that the Yankees only host the Red Sox for two games between Opening Day and August 5th.

    THT Jaffe’s Book Excerpt: “Evaluating Baseball’s Managers” — Billy Martin

    Posted by on November 17th, 2009 · Comments (8)

    Chris Jaffe, of The Hardball Times, has an article up today that should interest you. It’s an excerpt from his book “Evaluating Baseball’s Managers.” This excerpt is about former Yankee manager Billy Martin. Click here to check it out.

    Vive Le Roi! B4 Le Roi Est Mort!

    Posted by on November 16th, 2009 · Comments (18)

    Yes, this is about the “King”…but, no mention of “Return on Investment”? Really…..?

    Via Andrew Zimbalist in the WSJ –

    Judging from the media coverage, it seems that the only thing the Yankees didn’t do on their way to buying the 2009 World Series is ask the federal government for a bailout. But is it true that the Yankees bought their trophy? Are the championship rings the players will take home simply a byproduct of the largest payroll in Major League Baseball? And if so, how come the Yankees haven’t won the fall classic since 2000, even though the franchise led the way in payroll each year and actually spent more last year (when it missed the playoffs) than it did this year?

    It’s a little surprising, but the statistical relationship between a team’s winning percentage and its payroll is not very high. When I plot payroll and win percentage on the same graph, the two variables don’t always move together. In other words, knowing a team’s payroll does not enable one to know a team’s win percentage.

    More precisely, depending on the year, I find somewhere between 15% and 30% of the variance in team win percentage can be explained by the variance in team payroll. That means between 70% and 85% of a team’s on-field success is explained by factors other than payroll. Those factors can include front office smarts, good team chemistry, player health, effective drafting and player development, intelligent trades, a manager’s in-game decision-making, luck, and more.

    Wealthy teams do have an advantage, but it is not true that they can buy championships. Further, although the cries for parity among teams are loud, MLB has a good deal of competitive balance. Since 2004, 20 of baseball’s 30 teams have made the playoffs.

    Rich Harden

    Posted by on November 16th, 2009 · Comments (35)

    Many Yankees fans feel that New York should make a run at acquiring Rich Harden this off-season. Below are Harden’s statistics to date:


    Good stuff – no question there. His relative stats prove this out. But, boy, is he not a horse…

    Basically, if you’re lucky, he’s good for 150 innings a season. Is that someone who you really want to count on?

    Those Were The Days…

    Posted by on November 15th, 2009 · Comments (2)

    We’re just in the vestibule of this off-season and already I’m saying T.G.I.MLB Network. Today, they were running a replay of Roger Clemens 20-K game against the M’s on April 29, 1986.

    It was funny to see a young and much trimmer Rocket. And, oh, boy…the days when baseball pants were not hip-hop (meaning baggy) and men wore their stirrups high! Would I ever like to see that look make a comeback.

    It was also entertaining to see all those rows and rows, full sections – actually, of empty red seats at Fenway Park for this record game. The attendance was 13,414. So much for the great Red Sox Nation being long standing, huh?

    Anyway, there were so many one-time Yankees in this game: Spike Owen, Ken Phelps, Danny Tartabull, Wade Boggs, Don Baylor, and, of course, Roger Clemens. It was almost like a Yankees modern-retro-Old-Timers-Day or something.

    Say what you want about Clemens, the Red Sox, or whatever. But, it was an exciting game to watch, even just the bit that I caught – much like Ron Guidry’s 18-K game for the Yankees back in the day. Good stuff.

    The John Lackey Question

    Posted by on November 15th, 2009 · Comments (9)

    Could the Yankees use John Lackey next season? Well, first, look at this leader board via the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia -

    2005-2009
    GAMES STARTED >= 130
    INNINGS PITCHED >= 900
    Sorted by RSAA

    RSAA                           RSAA      GS       IP     
    1    Roy Halladay                167      147   1072     
    2    Johan Santana               164      159   1085.1   
    3    Brandon Webb                140      135    931     
    4    C.C. Sabathia               138      162   1113.1   
    5    Dan Haren                   118      168   1108     
    6    Roy Oswalt                  114      161   1064.1   
    7    John Lackey                 103      150    990.1   
    8    Carlos Zambrano             101      158   1011.2   
    9    Mark Buehrle                 90      162   1073.2   
    10   Felix Hernandez              86      138    905     
    11   Jake Peavy                   81      139    904     
    12   Andy Pettitte                70      167   1050.2   
    13   Josh Beckett                 68      151    970.2   
    14   Cliff Lee                    60      146    955     
    15   Aaron Harang                 58      156   1024.1   
    T16  Derek Lowe                   49      169   1045     
    T16  A.J. Burnett                 49      145    938.2   
    18   Bronson Arroyo               48      168   1077     
    19   Javier Vazquez               45      162   1062.2   
    20   Jon Garland                  40      161   1041.1   
    21   Kevin Millwood               33      155    947     
    22   Doug Davis                   25      162    968     
    23   Barry Zito                   18      167   1018     
    24   Joe Blanton                  13      162   1018.2   
    25   Jamie Moyer                  -5      156    969     
    26   Jason Marquis               -11      159    976     
    27   Jeff Suppan                 -21      159    930.1   
    28   Livan Hernandez             -79      164   1030.1  
    

    Clearly, Lackey is a talent – and he’ll be just 31-years old next season. For me, the key with Lackey is something that Jayson Stark pointed out two months ago:

    The Angels’ ace will be entering his age-31 season. He has the ninth-best ERA in baseball over the last five seasons (and second-best, behind Roy Halladay, among pitchers who have worked only in the AL). And he’s heading for his sixth straight winning season. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t scare some teams, after spending more than 100 days on the disabled list the last two years with forearm and triceps issues. “He’s the best name on the list,” one exec said. “But if Anaheim shies away from this guy or doesn’t make a serious attempt to sign him, I’d have concerns. They know him better than everyone else. So that would send out some serious red flags for me.”

    I agree with that last part. If the Angels are “all in” on Lackey this off-season, then the Yankees should make themselves a player in this game too. Just sit back, see what kind of years and numbers Anaheim/LA floats his way and make the call from there.

    Kei Igawa…

    Posted by on November 15th, 2009 · Comments (5)

    …is one Krazy Kat. Via Joel Sherman the other day -

    The Yankees have actually gotten strong inquiries from Japan about Kei Igawa, who is still due two years at $8 million. But the lefty has told the team he prefers to stay, though he almost certainly will be buried at Triple-A.

    Do they have a rodeo in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre?

    Greatest Post-Seasons By Yankees Batters

    Posted by on November 15th, 2009 · Comments (3)

    Via Baseball-Reference.com’s Play Index Post-Season Game Finder, I now present a list of what could be considered as the best post-seasons by Yankees batters:

    For those who cannot figure this out, this list is post-season games with reaching base at least twice, sorted by OPS in those total games, with at least five post-season games played that year.

    Seeing this, which batter would you say was the king of all Yankees Octobers?

    Of course, keep in mind that the denominator is not shown here. For example, A-Rod has 12 (reached 2+ times) games in 15 chances. And, the fifteen is not shown. And, Scott Brosius has 6 games here – but that came in 13 chances.

    So, yeah, it’s not a perfect list…but, then again, it does make a case that Mark Teixeira was not as bad this post-season as many paint his picture to be…

    In any event, you cannot say enough about Hideki Matsui’s post-season this year. It looks like he was 7 for 15 here. But, in reality, since he was a just a pinch-hitter in 3 of those games, you can make a case that he was 7 for 12 in this cut. Godzilla, indeed.

    Mr. T Happy For Yanks, General Joe, & A-Rod

    Posted by on November 14th, 2009 · Comments (4)

    Via the Daily News -

    Joe Torre could almost hear the banter in the dugout. Watching on television as the Yankees played in their first World Series since he left, the four-time champion Yankees manager knew exactly what Derek Jeter was saying as the camera zoomed in on him after Hideki Matsui hit a home run in Game 6.

    “Every time they’d bring a lefthander in, Derek Jeter would say in the dugout, ‘Don’t bring a lefthander for Matsui, don’t do that’ and invariably Matsui would hit a double or a home run,” Torre said. “When the camera went to Jeter in the dugout after Matsui hit a homer, it was like I could hear him saying ‘I told ya so.’”

    After 12 years and four World Series titles with the Yankees, the current Dodgers manager said watching from afar as the Yankees won the World Series was “surreal.” Even after the way he left, insulted by what he felt was a lowball contract offer, Torre could not help but be happy for the Yankees. Friday night, before his Safe at Home Foundation charity event at Chelsea Piers, Torre he said he was particularly happy for his successor Joe Girardi, as well as a player he was not always close with, controversial third baseman Alex Rodriguez.

    “He got the monkey off his back,” Torre said of Rodriguez, who never played well in the postseason under Torre. “I am happy for him.”

    Torre said that he was glad that Girardi had rallied after a tough first year as Yankees manager. “Coming after my 12 years and after all the success we had, that was not an easy thing for Joe Girardi,” Torre said. “He never backed away from it. He’s a quality individual.”

    Funny, no mention from Torre over the fact this was the first World Championship won by the Yankees without having Don Zimmer as bench coach since 1978.

    The Bill James Handbook 2010

    Posted by on November 14th, 2009 · Comments (5)

    The Bill James Handbook 2010 I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m a raving fan of the Bill James Handbook which is produced annually by the good folks at Baseball Info Solutions and Acta Publications.

    And, after perusing through the Bill James Handbook 2010 for the last two weeks (since it was released on November 1st), I can now share that this year’s edition has not lessened my opinion of this annual. In fact, if anything, it’s just made it stronger.

    As always, the Bill James Handbook 2010 is the perfect off-season companion for the baseball stat junkie. It’s a joy to curl up with a copy of this book and allow yourself to get lost for minutes or hours – immensely enjoying the journey as you cherry-pick on the snapshots of the data therein.

    Most times, I’m just happy thumbing through the pages and landing, at random, at a player and checking his career stats.

    Just the other day, I landed on former Yankee David Weathers. What an amazing career! Weathers is 40-years old and has pitched in the major leagues now for 19 seasons – for 9 different teams (at various times). He’ll never be a Hall-of-Famer, but, when a guy can play in the big leagues for 19 years and pitch in close to 1,000 games, he sure will be able to walk away from the game proud. Yet, if not for a book like the Bill James Handbook 2010, where you can randomly land on his career stats, would you even think twice about Weathers’ major league career?

    That’s just an example of the fun you have with the “Career Register” in this book. But, there’s more – including sections such as, but not limited to, “Team Efficiency Summary” (which tells you how efficient a team was with it’s hitting, pitching and run scoring), the “Fielding Bible Award” and “Runs Saved Plus/Minus Leaders,” how “Baserunners” perform, how “Relief Pitchers” perform, which teams are the best and worst at “Manufactured Runs,” tatics and usage patterns for skippers in the “The Manager’s Record” section, tons of Leader Boards from 2009, and, of course, career “Win Shares” data for every player in the majors last year as well as 2010 player projections for hitters and pitchers.

    That said, here’s some interesting Yankees-related data/facts from the Bill James Handbook 2010:

    • Over the last three season, Jorge Posada is the worst catcher at “saving runs” with a mark of -23. (During this time, Yadier Molina was the leader with a mark of +22).
    • In terms of “net gain” in baserunning, factoring in chances to go first to third, second to home, etc., and the amount of times the player was successful, as well as making outs on the bases, hitting into double plays, and net steals, the Yankees were the 22nd worst team in baseball with a mark of -9. (The best team in baseball here was the Phillies with a mark of +109 and the worst team in baseball was the Royals with a mark of -67.)
    • Also in terms of “net gain” in baserunning, Robinson Cano was the worst in baseball for second baseman (-23) and Chase Utley was the best (+50). This probably lends towards explaining the Phillies and Yankees overall team totals in this stat.
    • David Robertson allowed .36 of his inherited baserunners to score in 2009. For a point of comparison, Edwar Ramirez last season posted a mark of .33 here, Brian Burney’s number was .31, Damaso Marte posted a .19 and Phil Hughes’ fashioned a percentage of .06 – yes, point-oh-six.
    • In 2008, Joe Girardi had runners moving with the pitch 173 times (which was tops in the league). But, in 2009, Girardi had runners moving just 83 times. (What a difference not having Jason Giambi makes, I suppose.)
    • Nick Swisher had the second worst “BPS per OutZ” in the American League with a mark of .218 in 2009. What’s “BPS per OutZ”? It’s batting average plus slugging percentage on pitches outside of the strikezone. (Hey, Swishalicious, do yourself a favor and only swing at strikes!)
    • A.J. Burnett had the third “fastest” average fastball in the league at 94.2 MPH last season whereas Andy Pettitte had the third “slowest” average fastball in the league at 89.0 MPH (minimum 162 IP in both cases).
    • Among all players with at least 98 games played at 2B or SS, Robinson Cano had the 10th worst “2B Pivot %” in the league at .563 and Derek Jeter had the 10th worst “SS Pivot %” at .541 (whereas Dustin Pedroia led 2B at .789 and Yuniesky Betancourt was tops at SS with .735).

    O.K., that’s just a taste of the fun stuff that you can find thumbing through the Bill James Handbook 2010.

    As usual, the Bill James Handbook 2010 delivers. I highly recommend this book – and, not just for Yankees fans, – but for any baseball fan. If you like stats, this book covers all the bases (regardless of your favorite team or teams).

    Curtis Granderson

    Posted by on November 13th, 2009 · Comments (16)

    Via Joel Sherman the other day -

    In a cost-cutting frame of mind, the Tigers have let teams now that Curtis Granderson could be had for the right package, an NL executive told The Post.

    Granderson would be attractive to many teams, with the Yankees near the top of the list. They have long searched for a premium solution in center since Bernie Williams left his prime, but now they also face the loss of the lefty power of free agents Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui. Granderson hit a career-high 30 homers last year.

    Brian Cashman met with Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski at the now-concluded GM Meetings, but it is not believed the two did any more than discuss needs and available players. However, the two have a good relationship and have done significant trades before, going back to when Dombrowski was in Florida and obtained Mike Lowell from the Yanks to the more recent Gary Sheffield deal and the swap of Kyle Farnsworth for Ivan Rodriguez.

    The Yankees have a touted center field prospect in Austin Jackson, who could be the centerpiece for a deal, though Detroit would have a market outside of just The Bronx.

    Granderson, who will play at 29 next year, is owed $25.75 million over the next three years and has an option in 2013. He is not a player that Detroit truly wants to trade and neither is the available Edwin Jackson, another player who will draw interest not just from the Yankees, but the Mets, too.

    But the Tigers are supporting a top payroll in one of the cities hit hardest by the economic downturn, and they have many long-term commitments to players who are just about untradeable, including Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Guillen, Jeremy Bonderman, Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson. In all, the Tigers have 10 players under control for next season at $100 million with arbitration-eligible ace Justin Verlander due a raise to about $7 million, and Jackson and Gerald Laird also in line for big raises.

    Granderson does have a downside. He is terrible against lefties (.183 last year) and strikes out a ton (141 times last year) and though he steals bases (20 last year) he is not known as a strong instinctual base stealer. However, his power has blossomed in a park not nearly as becoming to a lefty hitter as Yankee Stadium and he is known as one of the most media friendly and amicable players in the game.

    In terms of “make-up,” Granderson is off-the-charts…probably Derek Jeter like, in that regard. If the Yankees don’t bring back Johnny Damon, and could get Granderson in a favorable deal, I would not have any issues with him being their left-fielder in 2010. Of course, yes, it all depends on the cost…in terms of the players New York would have to give up..

    Cashman & Epstein Talk About Yanks Plan For 2010

    Posted by on November 13th, 2009 · Comments (3)

    Via Mark Feinsand -

    Although the sentiment among most fans would be to bring back [Damon, Matsui and Pettitte], [Brian] Cashman can’t afford to be emotional when it comes to assembling his roster for next season.

    “It’s all about what’s best for us in 2010 and going forward,” Cashman said. “It’s part of the job description: to put the best team possible on the field with the short- and long-term in mind.”

    Five years ago, Theo Epstein faced the same scenario after his Red Sox ended their 86-year curse. That was when Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe and Orlando Cabrera all became free agents.

    Watching them leave may have been difficult for Boston fans, but for Epstein, it was simply business.

    “You have to separate yourself from what just happened,” Epstein said. “You have to realize your team will change whether you take control and dictate that change, or whether you sit back and try to preserve the status quo. It’s going to change anyway.”

    Whatever decisions Cashman makes, they will be based on 2010, not the title run that is still fresh in everybody’s minds.

    “Knowing Cash and the Yankees, they probably have a long-term plan, so they’re not going to deviate from that because they played well in October and won the whole thing,” Epstein said. “Ultimately, the regular season is a better indicator of future performance than what happens in the postseason. One month shouldn’t change that, no matter how well – or poorly – they played.”

    As Cashman points out, Epstein’s decision proved to be the sound one in the end.

    “They won another World Series three years later, didn’t they?” Cashman said. “The job is the job. You’ve got to do what’s best for the franchise and what you think is right. That’s what you get paid to do. You can’t have five million general managers dictating what you do.”

    How come you don’t hear that much about the G.M. of the Cubs talking about what the St. Louis Cardinals should/will do…with the G.M. of the Cards then acknowledging that the Cubs G.M. knows what he’s talking about?

    Derek Jeter Is A Bum

    Posted by on November 13th, 2009 · Comments (1)

    SPL138367_005

    Goodness, was the stone mason right? Nope…via the Post -

    No, Derek Jeter hasn’t blown through his fortune al ready — he’s playing a be draggled bum in a movie.

    The Yan kees captain and five-time world champion is play ing a fictionalized version of himself in the upcoming Will Ferrell flick “The Other Guys,” which was being filmed yesterday at Nathan’s Famous in Coney Island.

    Former Yank Wetteland Hospitalized

    Posted by on November 13th, 2009 · Comments (1)

    Via cbs11tv.com with a h/t to BBTF

    An elevated heart rate and high blood pressure sent a former Major League pitcher to a Denton-area hospital Thursday.

    Former Texas Rangers pitcher and current Seattle Mariners bullpen coach John Wetteland was taken by ambulance to Denton Regional Medical Center Thursday afternoon after police were called to his house.

    Denton County officials told CBS 11 Thursday afternoon that Wetteland had been hospitalized for a mental health issue, but in a release sent out to members of the media Thursday night by the Seattle Mariners, Wetteland said “My wife and I are very appreciative of the over and above care of our local officers and paramedics. The circumstances leading to my elevated blood pressure and heart rate have been addressed. I am currently resting safely at home.”

    The Denton County Sheriff’s office told CBS 11 they took a call from the Bartonville area around 12:30 Thursday on a possibly suicidal person.

    When officers arrived to the home, a man later identified as Wetteland came out with his hands in the air, saying he “needed help.”

    Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said in a statement, “We were relieved once we heard the details from John and Michelle and that John is safe at home and in good health. Contrary to earlier news reports, the reason John was hospitalized was because of an extremely high heart rate. We have let them know that the Mariners will do whatever we can to assist them.”

    Wetteland was always a bit of a character. And, I don’t think you could call him a “shut down closer.” But, there was also something about the guy that I liked…and he was a big part of that 1996 ring team.

    I hope this all works out well, in the end, for him.

    November 2009 Survey Question #3

    Posted by on November 12th, 2009 · Comments (11)

    Please consider taking the following poll:

    {democracy:83}

    Thanks in advance. And, please feel free to add comments on your opinion in the comments section below.

    Murti: Cash Is King

    Posted by on November 12th, 2009 · Comments (14)

    Via Sweeny Murti

    Random Thoughts the week after World Series win #27:

    Did any of us really see this coming two years ago? Remember when Hank Steinbrenner was running amok, Joe Girardi was replacing Joe Torre, A-Rod was opting out and back in, and Johan Santana was on his way to Flushing instead of the Bronx?

    Brian Cashman sat in front of the media last October and had what I called his “You can’t handle the truth” moment, telling us all that he was going to re-write the story. None of us knew that he would be proven right only a year later.

    While all the chaos was going on, Cashman was the constant. Even ownership was in turmoil, from the admission that George really wasn’t in charge anymore to Hank creating headlines to Hal pushing Hank into the background and creating a more stable environment.

    Cashman went on a mission last winter and hauled in the biggest and most influential free agent crop in team history. CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, and Mark Teixeira all could have been very rich men elsewhere. But they all came to the new Yankee Stadium, and Cashman made good on his promise.

    Gene Michael and even Bob Watson got the credit for the great Yankee teams of the last dynasty. If the Yankees build a new one (and remember, Yankee championships usually come in bunches), then Cashman will be the one who gets the credit. And he will deserve it.

    Here’s somebody else that deserves some credit: Bill Livesey, the 69-year old lifelong baseball man who just won his first World Series ring. Livesey, the man who oversaw the drafting and development of core Yankees like Jeter, Posada, Pettitte, and Rivera among others, was fired after the 1995 season. Livesey’s fingerprints were all over the dynasty Yankees of the late 90′s, but he never got a ring. He was brought back last year as a special assistant in the scouting department. Livesey should savor this World Series win because the core Yankees that he nurtured were still a big reason why they won.

    …If the Yankees build a new one (and remember, Yankee championships usually come in bunches), then Cashman will be the one who gets the credit. And he will deserve it…

    I agree with this statement. But, what if the Yankees don’t win another ring over the next four or five years? Does that offset the work and net results of 2009?

    Personally, I believe that 2009 is in the books and you cannot discount it at a later date – no matter what happens…sans some disclosure that the entire team was on HGH or something like that…

    But, in terms of a full body of work, if the Yankees don’t win another ring between now and the end of Cashman’s days with the team, I would think that the non-ring years under Cashman’s “full control” years would somewhat offset the magic of 2009, as it stands on his Yankees resume, no? What do you think?

    Agents Make Pitch For Their Beloved Clients

    Posted by on November 11th, 2009 · Comments (15)

    Scotty Boras is talking up Johnny Damon.

    Arn Tellem, who Big Stein once said back in 2005 “is no good,” is talking up Hideki Matsui.

    I don’t think we’ve seen agents work this hard since Maxwell Smart took Dr. Ratton’s robot Hymie and turned his evil nature to the side of good.

    Wang’s Wing Worth A Flyer?

    Posted by on November 10th, 2009 · Comments (38)

    Some recent reports on the Former-Worm-Killer Wang. First, via TSN -

    The Boston Globe reports Yankees right-hander Chien-Ming Wang received a very positive report Monday from orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews on his surgically repaired pitching shoulder.

    Wang, 29, underwent arthroscopic surgery in June, ending what had been a miserable season on the mound. He was 1-6 with a 9.64 ERA in 12 games (nine starts). His physical troubles began in 2008 when he injured his foot running the bases in an interleague game at Houston. He was a 19-game winner in 2006 and 2007.

    Next via Ken Davidoff -

    Alan Nero, the agent for the Yankees’ Chien-Ming Wang, stopped by; he works in Chicago. Nero said that Wang saw James Andrews on Monday, and that the right-hander intends to start throwing on Dec. 1 and could be ready for major-league action by April 15. That seems quite optimistic; in any case, the Yankees must decide by Dec. 12 whether to tender Wang a contract, and right now, you’d have to be on “No.”

    If the Yankees give Wang a contract for 2010, we’re talking about something in the range of four to five million bucks (for the season). Unless, as Joel Sherman reports:

    But there is belief in the industry that Wang makes a lot of money back in Taiwan due to his association with the Yankees. Therefore, Wang would probably be more amenable to signing a contract with the Yanks for a low base, say about $1 million, with incentives than any other team.

    Then again, for Chien-Ming to be successful, he’s going to have to be able to consistently throw 94 MPH. Can he do that given what his shoulder has been through this season and in years passed? And, in his big league career, overall, Wang has only been very effective pitching in the “old” Yankee Stadium (which is now gone).

    This one is going to be a tough call for the Yankees. Remember Scott Erickson and Matt Morris? Sometimes these right-handed guys with power sinkers just fall off a cliff when they reach 30-years old (or thereabouts). If New York can work out something for close to a million with incentives, it’s worth rolling the dice. But, if it’s going to cost closer to five million…well…maybe it’s better to take that money and try and get an innings-eater like Jason Marquis (who is also a local guy) or Jon Garland to take a one-year deal to pitch in the back end of a rotation for a team like the Yankees where they can cruise to a 15-win season and maybe a shot at a bigger pay-day in 2011?

    The Mussina Curse…Uh…I Mean Record

    Posted by on November 10th, 2009 · Comments (18)

    Two rings book-ended Mike Mussina’s Yankees career. This got me wondering as to how many others played for a team for 8 years or longer where the team won a World Championship the year before he joined and the year after – but not in between…

    I figured that Lee Sinins was the best person to ask about this and here’s what he was able to share:

    Mussina does hold the record. The prior record holder was Bill McGee who pitched for the Cardinals from 1935-41. The only others who did it four 5+ years were 4 members of the 1998-2002 Marlins: Preston Wilson, Kevin Millar, Ryan Dempster and Vic Darensbourg.

    Something tells me this is a record that Moose is going to hold for a looooong time.

    Update, 11/10/09, 3:49 pm ET: Looking it over, I see that Bill McGee was traded by the St. Louis Cardinals to the New York Giants on May 14, 1941. So, he didn’t close the 1941 season with the Cards, and, therefore, he loses that “bookend” connection to their 1942 ring season. So, it appears that, perhaps, Preston Wilson, Kevin Millar, Ryan Dempster and Vic Darensbourg held the record – until Mussina blew it away with his 8-season streak.

    Pondering Pettitte

    Posted by on November 9th, 2009 · Comments (22)

    Via NESN.com -

    Andy Pettitte — who has announced that he will either pitch in pinstripes or retire to his Texas home – is waiting to hear from the Yankees about his future.

    Over the last 13 seasons, Andy Pettitte is easily in the “Top 5″ of my personal “Favorite Yankees” (during that time span). And, he’s in the “Top Ten” of my personal “All-Time Favorite Yankees” since 1973 (when I became a Yankees fan).

    But, that said, I have to wonder about bringing Andy back to the Yankees in 2010.

    If the plan is to use him as a #5 starter – that’s fine. But, if you’re looking for him to be your #3 horse, behind Sabathia and Burnett, that’s a mistake.

    From May 29th through October 3rd last season, Pettitte averaged 100.9 pitches thrown and 5.91 innings pitched per start. And, Andy will be 38 years-old next season. Therefore, you have to expect Pettitte to be a 100-pitches, tops, near five-and-fly guy in 2010 – which, again, would be fine for a fifth starter. But, it’s not what you want from a middle of the rotation guy.

    And, don’t tell me that Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes are going to be the Yankees #3 and #4 starters next season – as they’ve yet to prove they’re capable of handling those roles.

    It’s really a weird spot for the Yankees. They need Pettitte – but they need him and something else too. Unless, they think he can be their #3 guy next year? But, that’s really rolling them, if you ask me…

    November 2009 Survey Question #2

    Posted by on November 9th, 2009 · Comments (42)

    Please consider taking the following poll:

    {democracy:82}

    Thanks in advance. And, please feel free to add comments on your opinion in the comments section below.

    Praise For Damon Oppenheimer

    Posted by on November 8th, 2009 · Comments (11)

    There’s been some post-world-series features recently highlighting the work of Damon Oppenheimer. First from Tom Krasovic -

    Some of the best scouts in baseball have worked for the Padres. One of them, Damon Oppenheimer, now has more World Series rings than he does fingers on one hand — one for the thumb coming on Wednesday when the Yankees thumped the Phillies.

    Number five was especially cool for Oppenheimer, New York’s vice-president of scouting since 2004, because players he drafted such as Joba Chamberlain , Phil Hughes, Brett Gardner and David Robertson assisted the pinstriped run to World Series title No. 27.

    “Seeing so many of our kids come up and contribute to this team — that would be the most gratifying thing,” Oppenheimer said today.

    Maybe you hate the Yankees because their payroll is more than $200 million. Maybe you’d rather they not win another title in this century. Can’t say that I blame you.

    I refer to the Yankees as the Death Star — cold and ruthless.

    The rival Red Sox are The Matrix, equally ruthless and nearly as laden with resources.

    I told the Smartest Man in Baseball [Theo Epstein] last month that America should thank the Angels for sparing us a Yankees-Red Sox American League Championship Series and all of the East Coast ego and hype that comes with it. He laughed from his CEO’s office at Yawkey Way, then protested the comparison. “The Yankees spend $40 million, $50 million more than we do on ballplayers,” he said, and he’s right, but that’s warm beer to the rest of the baseball world.

    Next, from Bob Elliot -

    Damon Oppenheimer goes to scouting showcase events, college and high school games across North America.

    As scouting director of the New York Yankees, he gets one of two greetings: Either “Hi Damon” or “Ohhh, here come the Yankees with their $200-million payroll.”

    “We get that all the time,” Oppenheimer said yesterday awaiting his return flight to Tampa.

    “You know what, I held that World Series trophy and looked at all the teams listed over the years. Nowhere, not once, does it list team payroll. Same for a World Series ring — I’ve never seen a payroll on a ring.”

    You have heard about the four core homegrown players — Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada — who each picked up their fifth World Series ring Wednesday night.

    In all, the Yankees had 10 homegrowns help them win No. 27.

    Besides the Fab Core Four:

    * Scouts Gordon Blakely and Mark Newman signed free agents Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera from Latin America.

    * Former scouting director Lynn Garrett signed right-hander Phil Hughes when Oppenheimer was a scout. Hughes, a first-round high schooler from Fonthill, Calif., was the set-up man for most of this season.

    * Oppenheimer drafted centre fielder Brett Gardner, and relievers Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson.

    Gardner was drafted as a senior from College of Charleston (third round, 2005), and was the first homegrown Yankee to start on Opening Day since Posada broke into the lineup.

    Chamberlain, from the University of Nebraska (a first-rounder in 2006) took on a life of his own becoming a New York icon. Robertson was drafted from the University of Alabama (17th, 2006), but “showed his stomach pitching on Cape Cod.”

    “I work for a guy who wants to win, to go the extra mile and does not line his pockets with all the revenue, he puts it back into the team,” Oppenheimer said. “That’s what Mr. Steinbrenner does.

    “We’ve gotten to the point where we are developing kids, spending money in Latin America, and it’s reaping some rewards.”

    As the Yanks eliminated the Philadelphia Phillies on scouting reports prepared by the likes of Tim Naehring, Steve Boros and Scott Lovekamp, Oppenheimer watched the first five innings from the clubhouse and then headed to general manager Brian Cashman’s suite.

    “After the final out, Cashman popped open a bottle, poured a glass for everyone and toasted the suite, saying: ‘You guys had a big part, you’re all real important.’ He saluted everyone. Rather than running down and jumping into the fray, he took the time to talk to us. That’s kind of what this whole things is about.”

    Speaking of World Series rings, anyone else wondering if Angel Berroa will offer to sell his 2009 Yankees World Championship ring? Maybe Kei Igawa will want to buy it?

    The Cablinasian On Cashman

    Posted by on November 7th, 2009 · Comments (22)

    Sean Pendergast offered many thoughts on Brian Cashman last Thursday. Some funny stuff in there. He’s a snip:

    Cashman is one of the most intriguing people in baseball to me, not because he’s particularly charismatic (or charismatic at all) but mostly because every time they show him in the owner’s box at games he has a look on his face like he’s simultaneously battling food poisoning and watching animal porn. I keep thinking someone needs to remind the guy that he is getting paid seven figures to construct a baseball team with the virtually bottomless checkbook of a senile old man. On the “job quality” scale, with 1 being “guy who empties portalets” and 10 being “a Maloof Brother,” I would say Cashman’s job is a solid 8.5. And yet aesthetically, the guy is one step above a skeleton.

    Yanks Parade Photos From The Inside Out

    Posted by on November 7th, 2009 · Comments (3)

    My buddy, Chris the Super Yankees fan, was in one of the trucks during the Yankees parade yesterday. And, he was willing to share some pitcures from that incredible event. (Thanks Chris!) Here they are:

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    Was Johnny Damon Better In Boston Or New York?

    Posted by on November 7th, 2009 · Comments (11)

    With some help via the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia, let’s look at Johnny Damon’s career as a member of the Boston Red Sox and his New York Yankees career, to date:

    First, his time in Boston:

    YEAR	TEAM	  RC	RCAA  OWP  RC/G	 BPA    PA
    2002	Red Sox	  107	24   .615  6.24	 .526   702
    2003	Red Sox    93	 2   .512  5.40	 .490   690
    2004	Red Sox	  116	25   .607  6.94	 .537   702
    2005	Red Sox	  107	26   .624  6.54	 .496   688
    TOTALS	          423	77   .591  6.27	 .512  2782

     

    World Series Rings: 1
    Signature Post-Season Moment:
    2nd inning Grand Slam on 10/20/04 in Game 7 of 2004 ALCS

    Next, here’s Damon’s time in New York (so far):

    YEAR	TEAM	   RC	RCAA  OWP  RC/G	 BPA	PA
    2006	Yankees	  108	26   .624  6.55	 .550	671
    2007	Yankees	   82	 5   .527  5.54	 .495	605
    2008	Yankees	  101	25   .629  6.75	 .541	623
    2009	Yankees	  102	27   .636  6.77	 .553	626
    TOTALS		  393	83   .607  6.41	 .535  2525

     

    World Series Rings: 1
    Signature Post-Season Moment:
    9th inning “Double Steal” on 11/1/09 in Game 4 of 2009 World Series

    The numbers are pretty close here. In slightly less PA as a member of the Yankees, Damon has posted slightly better numbers in terms of RCAA, OWP, RC/G, and BPA (compared to when he was a member of the Red Sox). And, Johnny has one ring with each team – where he had a big post-season moment contributing towards it.

    On the whole, I would say that Johnny Damon’s “time” in New York was just as good as it was while he was in Boston. His production was the same, and, in each stop, he was on one World Series championship team (during the four years he was there).

    So, when you retrospectively think “Johnny Damon,” and assuming you don’t consider him to be a “Kansas City Royal” or “Oakland Athletic” (although I doubt anyone who consider the latter), should you first see him as a “Red Sox” or as a “Yankee”? Perhaps it depends on which side of the Boston/New York fence that you sit on? But, in any event, you cannot say that Damon’s career in Boston was better than it was (through 2009) in New York.

    Johnny Damon’s “mark” in both towns was pretty much exactly the same.

    ~~~

    Not sure what the baseball stats used in this feature are?

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